October 2014…Healthy NewsWorks has gotten off to a fast start this school year.
Students in 15 Philadelphia, Norristown, and Upper Darby schools are busy producing the fall issues of their health-focused school newspapers. The newspaper staffs include some 300 elementary and middle school students. While the content for each newspaper is specific for a school, the publications as a group this year will reach more than 6,500 students enrolled in the 15 schools.
The quick start is due in part to a pilot program called the Healthy NewsWorks Shoe-Leather Intensive Program. Similar to a boot camp, the shoe-leather program immersed students in four schools in journalistic concepts and academic skills they need to be health reporters. Over five consecutive days in early September, each school dedicated between 45 to 60 minutes a day for the intensive skill-building program.
Typically, Healthy NewsWorks newspaper teams gather once a week for a group meeting. The reporters are often responsible for additional interviewing and writing assignments during the week.
“Boot camp has changed the dynamic and production of our newspaper,” said Katie Ogoussan, who leads the Gotwals Healthy Press and developed the idea for the Shoe-Leather Intensive Program. “Students are so much more knowledgeable about basic journalism skills and, in turn, I feel so much more at ease planning mini-lessons for the rest of the year.”
Her third grade newspaper team expects to wrap up their first issue in late October.
In the year ahead, Healthy NewsWorks reporters will research and write about heart health and bullying prevention, along with other health-related stories. Some reporters also will contribute to the organization’s fourth book, Leading Healthy Change In Our Communities 2015, which will be published in May 2015. All students in a Healthy NewsWorks school can participate in a poster contest later this fall, called Acts of Kindness.
Healthy NewsWorks expanded its network this year and welcomed two new Philadelphia school partners—St. Martin de Porres and William Cramp Elementary School.
Other Philadelphia schools participating in the program this year are AMY Northwest, James Dobson Elementary School, Hope Partnership for Education, La Salle Academy, and Philadelphia Montessori Charter School.
In addition to Gotwals, the following Norristown Area School District schools are producing health newspapers: Cole Manor Elementary School, East Norriton Middle School, Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy, Hancock Elementary School, Marshall Street Elementary School, and Whitehall Elementary School. In the Upper Darby School District, Highland Park Elementary School also will produce health publications.
“We have a wonderful group of schools and students working on their health publications this year, ” said Marian Uhlman, Healthy NewsWorks director. “I can hardly wait to read all their articles.”